Cascadia Poetics LAB


I am a big city guy. Keep in mind there are almost as many people in my home town (metro area) of Chicago 9.52M as there are in the STATES of Washington and Oregon. So one gets used to culture, having pro sports teams for which to develop life-long affinities and an incredible diversity that only now is beginning to be replicated as I develop roots in the Rainier Valley and 98118, one of the most diverse zip codes in the U.S.

That being said, there are advantages to small town life. My time in Auburn, Washington, the town once known as Slaughter, allowed me credit at the print shop (bless you Joe Bartkowski) and not only credit at the auto repair shop, but a free water pump repair and replacement from Vince & Jerome who said I should “consider it an act of Christian charity.” When’s the last time you heard THAT from a business?!?

Birds of a FeatherOne other advantage is the stable (municipal) funding and creative license that allow for experiences like the new Of  a Feather exhibit at the White River Valley Museum. A simple organizing principle, (birds, NW) but given the elegant space of the museum, the easy access and the curating genius of Greg Watson, you have something worth the half hour drive to the former slaughter.

One of the pieces that catches your eye right away is a Blue Heron by Mary Ellen Bowers. What you don’t get unless you look close is that her piece is made up of Starbucks cards. She works in an elementary school and when parents give gifts, they often come in the form of these plastic cards. She hated them being added to landfills, so got the brainstorm to create:

by Mary

by Mary Ellen Bowers

You’ll find an update of the Seahawk logo:



Birds in just about every medium you can imagine:


And birds done by legendary NW artists like Morris Graves, Kenneth Callahan, Bill Holm and James Washington:

by James Washington

by James Washington

From the museum is this quote:

Local artist, scholar and guest curator Kenneth Greg Watson comments, “Northwest art lovers are coming to view Auburn’s White River Valley Museum as a special place between Seattle and Tacoma where they can experience and enjoy art of the finest quality. Of A Feather will continue this gem of a museum’s reputation for innovative exhibits with world class art and broad regional appeal.”

To say it is well worth the trip is an understatement. While in Auburn, I’d also try the banana bread at the Sunbreak Café with butter. You won’t have to ask for “lots.”